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Friday, November 4, 2011

YES, AGAIN, MY BEST TWO MEALS IN A ROW

There are two 100 Best World Restaurants in Lima, Peru.  I had dinner last night with Rosalia and Leonid  at #42, Astrid Y Gaston, only a block away from the Casa Andina hotel where Globus puts us.  The decor is better than St. John, but not too spiffy.  We selected their eleven step tasting meal, developed by head chefs Victoriano Lopez and Hernan Casteneda, and had a bottle of their house red, a Chilean Ventisquero Merlot (a disappointment, as they should have a local wine), while I added a glass of Peruvian white meritage of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.  We were expected to sit for three hours, but ended up staying for 4 1/2 hours.

I should mention that Rosalia and Leonid legally emigrated from Russia a long time ago to Syndney Australia, where they have enjoyed a fruitful life.  They leave next to hop a Caribbean cruise.

We started with an Amazonic cocktail and appetizer, a giant sea escargot:


Next Ocas, an Andean tube in a bed of dried olives with a sauce that looked like guacamole or wasabi, but was neither:


Octopus:


Guinea pig, a crispy slice eaten like Peking Duck with dark rolled pancake:


Peruvian corn (extra large kernals):


A very colorful sea urchin dish (on the side were three shots of seafood infused cocktails (one was shrimp, so I passed--I might add that they graciously replaced the lobster and shrimp morsels with fish):


Lamb:


Beef:


Goat ice cream and assorted desserts, like eating a work of art:


Rosalia contemplating which dulcement to eat, for at this point we were supersaturated with food:


I had a late harvest riesling and capucchino to close this feast:


We say goodbye to Astrid Y Gaston:


If I look like I'm gaining weight, the answer is certainly, but proud of my body for keeping me healthy through this long ordeal.

We agreed that we have had better meals at restaurants not in the Best 100.  (I add a note to Leonid:  Quay is #26, Attica #53, Tetsuya #58 and Marque #70,)  However, in consideration of the timing (we next leave South America after a grueling tour), authenticity of this being truly Peruvian, the efficient service staff and the relaxing environment (the background music was international, spiced with Ella Fitzgerald and Eartha Kitt), we very much enjoyed this experience and can only recommend A Y G to anyone reading this posting.  Oh, you would pay three times more in almost any equivalent restaurant.

I HATE TO SAY THIS, AGAIN, BUT MY LUNCH AT MALABAR COULD WELL HAVE BEEN THE BEST OF MY LIFE.  Yes, there was La Terrazza dell'Eden in Rome, but it was mostly that fantastic white truffle risotto that excelled.  Here in Lima, the whole meal was a gastronomic extravanganza.  However, I walked in at 1:30 and was somewhat stunned to see that I was the only diner.  This is Friday afternoon and I wondered if I had missed the Board of Health sign outside.  The music was Elvis, which was followed by Mozart, then a Peruvian instrumental....etc.  American music, though, was dominant.

The chef is Pedro Miguel Schiaffino with the excellent service of Jesus.  I ordered their menu degustacion with who knows how many courses.

By 2PM there were fourteen other people eating.  The surprise is that the men largely wore ties and this was the best dressed of any clientele in any of my meals, including London.

To start, I had a Pisco Sour with the first appetizer, a foie gras with patacones (a kind of plaintain,or a cooking banana) and something else.  Then, my second appetizer,  two delicate edibles, was served with a CHAP, Chandon sparkling wine with Pisco, plus a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (14.5%--lemony) and Argentinian Malbec (14%--chocolates):

The ceviche on endive with seaweed was artistic, sharp and delectable:

Then came scallops with maca root and caviar:

The Brazil nut curd cheese salad just exploded in my mouth, with diverse piquancy for each section.  This could have been the the most spectacular salad I've ever had in my life, although I'm not sure where the Brazil nut was:

The beef tataki was lukewarm with a hint of cumarin, which I liked.

I had to take a photo of the flower at the top of the above dish, which you could only barely see:

At this point, I became concerned because I was only halfway through the meal.  Followed a rock fish with squid and black amaranth, beautiful and divine:

Next, a grilled paiche (you've seen this fish in those fish stories):

with chorizo, a most interesting combination, for rarely do you see a seafood item with a local sausage:
I loved this blend.  The Braised duck with mirasol chili peppers and pecans was outstanding:

Look at all that fat.  Great!  The final entre was a, yikes, braised baby goat (but you all have had lamb, which is baby sheep) in corn beer and winter vegetables.  My olfactories just don't like goat, so I just had a small portion:

Coming to an end, as the first dessert was Granny Smith apple with copoazu (a Peruvian fruit), pistachio and Amazonian wild honey:

The second dessert was another artistic masterpiece of custard apple with nutela, bitter chocolate ice cream (amazing) and kumquats:

Then, finally, the dulce with capucchino:

What a meal!  Yes, the best lunch I've ever had, and how's this for great P.R.  Chef Pedro even sent me an e-mail note saying he was sorry he missed me and to please let him know when I next return.

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